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Innovation in Digital Banking Awards 2023

As in most years, the Innovation in Digital Banking Awards submissions covered a wide range of banking services. While we have seen a continuation of the accelerated pace of digital transformation the industry has experienced over the past few years, we have also seen the embracing of frameworks and platforms to ensure better partnerships and customer experiences going forward.

The 2023 awards received 227 submissions across 18 categories worldwide, from a wealth of banks and technology providers. Innovative products and services covered a range of banking sectors including retail, payments, wholesale and investment banking.

A mix of external and internal judges considered each entry against a range of variables: impact on a local domestic market, demonstrable impact on specific market segments, proven performance metrics and a creative approach to product development and customer problems.

The high number of quality submissions made putting together even a shortlist extremely difficult. Insights from our external judging panel were instrumental in determining the final winners from a competitive and crowded field. We would like to extend our thanks to our independent judging panel of industry experts for their efforts.

In 2023, once again digital transformation garnered the greatest number of award submissions. Multi-jurisdictional banks are examining their enterprise architecture and cultures in a comprehensive and holistic way. Our global winner is close to finishing a global transformation project that will see it migrate its multinational legacy architecture to the cloud.

Projects involving the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile applications also figured high in this year’s number of submissions. As advances in AI continue to develop and evolve, we expect the use of AI and machine learning to affect various areas of banking, including credit scoring, lending, fraud prevention and customer onboarding.

Projects aimed at financial inclusion remained scattered throughout the awards categories, not just in the financial wellness category. However, this year saw an increase in projects aimed at achieving net-zero emissions, climate action and carbon reduction.

For the third year in a row, we have invited banks to submit an entry for Chief Innovation/Information Officer (CIO) of the Year, the only Innovation in Digital Banking award given to an individual. All the entries were examples of leaders whose teams and banks are visualising a new era for banking. Our CIO of 2023 has spearheaded an innovation entity that reimagines how incumbent banks interact with emerging technologies and agile fintech companies.

Congratulations to all the winners in this year’s Innovation in Digital Banking Awards.

Judges

  • Francesco Burelli, partner, Arkwright Consulting
  • Alessandro Hatami, founder, Pacemakers
  • Sarah Kocianski, fintech and insurtech strategist, Valley Ventures
  • Liz Lumley, deputy editor, The Banker
  • Virginie O’Shea, founder and CEO, Firebrand Research
  • Roberta Profeta, associate principal – financial services, Elca Advisory
  • David Williams, UK financial services capital markets technology leader, EY

Regions

Global

WINNER: Banco Santander

At this year’s annual general meeting, Ana Botín, executive chair of Banco Santander, said: “By continuing to transform our business and operating model, we will build a digital bank with branches powered by the Santander network. This concept reflects the fact that people who bank with us are not – as in the case of many digital businesses – simply ‘users’. They are our customers who are trusting us with their savings; who want a service that is simple, personal and fair; and who want a high-quality omnichannel experience.”

Banco Santander is on a multi-year project to completely migrate its global core banking system from mainframes to cloud infrastructure. The project has seen the bank develop in-house software to support the mainframe migration, a project that was so successful Google Cloud now uses the proprietary software as the base of its own legacy migration service.

The project began before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic by surveying the banks’ regional CEOs. Many of Santander’s CEOs felt it was a must for them to increase the pace of innovation, including the mainframe-based core banking systems, according to David Chaos, global chief information officer.

After a search to see if the bank could find a solution to its legacy core banking system modernisation challenge yielded more proposals from consultants than solutions, Mr Chaos’s team decided to “grab the bull by the horns” and modernise their core banking infrastructure themselves.

“That was a bold statement and a bold decision we took,” he adds.

The work resulted in what the bank calls ‘Gravity’, bespoke software, developed in-house, to enable the transition of core banking to the cloud. This software plays an essential role in modernising the core platform. The bank now claims to be one of the first major banks in the world to digitalise its core banking system, and has made significant progress, with 90% of its IT infrastructure already on the cloud platform.

According to Dirk Marzluf, global head of technology and operations at Banco Santander: “Gravity is helping transform Santander into a ‘digital-native’ company, with the agility and capabilities to offer the best customer experience, while continuing to provide the solid security for data and assets that we’ve always delivered our customers. Migrating from legacy infrastructure to modern technology is a key challenge for banks and other industries. This evolution, only possible in Santander with our bespoke software, developed in-house, will allow easier and faster access to data, greater simplicity, real-time analytics and shorter time to market.”

Mr Chaos’s team held a contest to find a name for the in-house software and, despite this being a cloud migration project, ‘Gravity’ was the winner.

“Where the data sits is so powerful that it has a lot of gravity,” explains Mr Chaos. With the old mainframe system, data was held in the back end and had to be accessed by going into a transaction, he adds. “But that’s not how data is treated anymore. In essence, we said: ‘Let’s move the centre of gravity from the back to the front’,” making it “much easier to access data for all sorts of reasons”.

Gravity is a transformational project that is being implemented rapidly in our different markets worldwide

David Chaos

“Gravity is a transformational project that is being implemented rapidly in our different markets worldwide. We expect to complete the process between 2024 and 2025. The migration of the entire Santander core banking system to the cloud is a huge breakthrough, because it delivers a new and modern banking core system for the next decade. We can do it thanks to the combination of experienced IT professionals, some of whom created the legacy system 20 years ago and are now moving it to the cloud, and our young, brilliant engineers and developers who are at the start of their careers,” says Mr Chaos.

Migration from a mainframe architecture to the cloud involves shutting down access to the legacy systems which support the banks’ retail, wholesale and investment banking operations.

The Santander cloud migration has been warmly received inside the bank. According to Mr Chaos, many teams feel a renewed sense of mission. “I get emails and calls from people saying, ‘thank you for bringing this’, because we developed this piece of software 20 years ago and now it’s a pleasure for me now to go and take it to the cloud,” he adds.

Because of the success of this project, Santander started working with Google Cloud, which launched Dual Run, a mainframe migration service built on top of Gravity. Google plans to support other companies across multiple industries to simplify their transition from legacy mainframe systems to the cloud.

Africa

WINNER: Standard Bank Group

Standard Bank Group operates in 20 sub-Saharan African countries across the continent and is the largest bank by assets in South Africa. Instead of solely competing with fintech companies, the bank has recognised the importance of partnering to accelerate the deployment of digital capabilities and technologies in its business.

Its digital banking strategy for business and commercial banking South Africa (BCB SA) is aligned to support businesses across a wide continuum, from simple sole-proprietor start-ups all the way through to multi-entity businesses with annual turnover of up to R1.3bn ($69m).

Smaller simpler entities are supported by end-to-end digital onboarding and multi-product origination capability through a self-service channel. Larger and more complex businesses have seen enhancements to improve staff-assisted onboarding processes and client relationship management capabilities using new digital technologies offered through technology partners like Salesforce and Backbase.

we work with fintechs to accelerate the deployment of digital capabilities that truly shift the dial on client growth

Kim Holmes

New digital onboarding can benefit clients by reducing turnaround-time from 45 minutes to five minutes, eliminating manual document processing and allowing accounts to be opened within 24 hours, among other efficiencies.

The online business banking platform includes a cloud-based solution that allows clients to be able to set up and fully manage permissions and segregation of duties via a self-service entitlements engine.

A new client relationship management platform provides Standard Bank with a single view of a client profile on one platform. Client requests and complaints are resolved with increased speed because the platform allows for instant collaboration between key business partners across the bank to engage, understand the matter and come up with a solution.

“Delivering on our strategy to partner with business clients to drive their growth demands, we work with fintechs to accelerate the deployment of digital capabilities that truly shift the dial on client growth, while also deepening our personal relationship with clients. The result is a personalised, relationship-based client offering empowered by technology precisely relevant to the moments that matter most on each client’s growth journey,” says Kim Holmes, head of digital and e-commerce, business and commercial banking at Standard Bank South Africa.

Asia-Pacific

WINNER: Habib Bank Limited

Established in 1947, Habib Bank Limited (HBL) was the first commercial bank in Pakistan. Today, it has an ambitious goal of doubling its number of banked customers by 2025.

The bank has a strong commitment to digital adoption and IT investment. In digital transformation, the bank has invested Rs13.5tn ($46.9bn), equivalent to 7.1% of its income. This is in line with the global trend of increasing IT spending by banking and investment services firms.

By prioritising digital transformation, HBL aims to enhance its front-end services, streamline internal processes and maintain a competitive edge in the market. HBL’s substantial investments realise its desire to be perceived as a “technology company with a banking licence” within the broader financial ecosystem in Pakistan.

The bank has centralised digital onboarding for branch customers, completing the account opening process within 15 to 20 minutes. HBL’s partnerships have had substantial social impact, distributing Rs4.2bn in subsidies to 382,000 farmers, Rs600m in stipends to 150,000 girls’ guardians, and Rs25bn in relief to one million people affected by recent flooding.

HBL also supports payments for impactful social support programmes, including Rs162m to 20,550 WHO beneficiaries and Rs1.23bn for World Food Programme beneficiaries. In 2022, more than Rs214 bn was disbursed to 6.7 million people across Pakistan. Through the Asaan Mobile Account USSD initiative, created by the State Bank of Pakistan, HBL opened 37,000 new digital accounts, linking 1.5 million accounts. Through Konnect by HBL’s network, Rs172.7bn in mobile collections and Rs9.3 bn in mobile disbursements were made, adding 120 new accounts for disbursements and 316 new accounts for collections in business-to-business partnerships.

Konnect by HBL has reached 8.5 million users, offering convenient services such as funds transfers, bill payments, insurance, education payments, loan repayments, corporate collections and disbursements. It also facilitates lifestyle payments in food, fashion, tickets and entertainment categories.

HBL’s Mobile Banking App has expanded its user base to 3.2 million customers. This achievement cements the bank’s position as a leader among Pakistan’s 33 commercial lenders. With an ambitious goal of doubling its number of banked customers by 2025, HBL has developed a five-fold strategy emphasising its commitment to digital banking excellence.

Central and eastern Europe

WINNER: BNP Paribas Bank Polska

In January 2023, BNP Paribas Bank Polska implemented a new customer service model, the Digital Service Assistance, in all its branches, which was one of the main reasons it scooped the award for central and eastern Europe in 2023.

In the front-end application used for servicing customers, the bank implemented a functionality to identify customers’ needs and determine the parameters of the offer. The offer triggers a push message to the customer, who is redirected to the relevant place in the mobile application on their smartphone, where they can perform the transaction, such as the purchase of a product, a cash loan, a revolving overdraft facility, a savings account, a foreign currency account or credit card, or selected post-sale transactions.

The solutions we introduce always make our services more accessible and intuitive for our clients

Przemysław Furlepa

Since the beginning of the year, the bank claims that this functionality has proven popular with advisers, as well as clients. Two-thirds of its advisers actively use the product. Almost 25,000 client cases in branches have been conducted in this way in 2023 alone.

Benefits include a faster and smoother customer process, by which clients receive funds from the cash loan faster than standard. It also works to educate clients in the use of digital functionality and availability of banking products.

BNP Paribas Bank Polska also makes environmental concerns a top priority. One such action reduces the negative environmental impact of operational activities, among other things, the use of paper, which involves simplifying and digitising processes.

The implementation of the new customer service process results in annual savings for the environment:

  • More than 150,000 sheets of paper;
  • 300 reams of paper;
  • 4973kg of paper;
  • five large trees; and
  • 1050 cubic metres of water.

“Banking has changed significantly since the pandemic, both in terms of speeding up the technology itself and the willingness of people to try new, more contextual solutions. But with all the new developments, one thing remains paramount in our strategy: implementing new technology cannot be an end. The solutions we introduce always have one overriding purpose: to make our services more accessible and intuitive for our clients,” says Przemysław Furlepa, vice-president of the management board at BNP Paribas Bank Polska, responsible for retail and business banking.

Latin America

WINNER: Nubank

Challenger Nubank has been betting on platformisation to be better, faster and more agile in offering client services. The lender is working on the concept of self-driving banking, whereby customers will have a level of control over their finances and financial planning.

We strive to be truly disruptive, with the goal of freeing people from complexity

Vitor Olivier

While 2022 presented macroeconomic challenges for the global markets, Nubank began the year with a strong capital position and grew to consolidate its position as the sixth-largest financial institution in Latin America by number of active customers.

At the end of the year, Nubank announced that its subsidiary Nu Mexico had launched the waitlist for its digital account and debit card products, aiming to expand its portfolio and customer base. The company’s investments in the country – Nu’s second largest operation – now amount to $1.3bn, after a recent announcement of an equity capitalisation of $330m.

In addition to international expansion, Nubank launched three new products:

  • NuTap is a service that makes payments less bureaucratic. It has no joining fee, monthly fee or lease, and charges fees up to 30% less than those charged in the market;
  • Caixinhas, or ‘Money Boxes’, support savings, tracking income and making plans for the future. The feature is free and customers can create as many Money Boxes as they want;
  • The Modo Rua leveraging technology protects the customer, while reducing complexity. This adds to a series of security mechanisms the bank already offers including scam warnings, multifactor authentication, artificial intelligence models and predictive risk analysis.

“This recognition is an honour and a statement of Nubank’s DNA. Innovation is at the forefront of everything we do, using proprietary scalable technology to make a real impact on people’s lives,” says Vitor Olivier, chief technology officer at Nubank. “In the past year alone, we launched features like Money Boxes and Modo Rua, which have completely changed the way people save, invest and protect their money. We strive to be truly disruptive, with the goal of freeing people from complexity, empowering them to optimise money and time.”

North America

WINNER: Citi

In 2022, Citi’s institutional clients group (ICG) launched the institutional strategic investments (ISI) organisation, which is at the core of ICG’s innovation framework. The ISI group made 36 investments in 2022 with an approximate 85% commercialisation rate of portfolio companies.

The portfolio of investments includes approximately 100 fintech and market infrastructure companies, generally Seed and Series A/B, of which Citi is a strategic partner. These investments are aiming to enhance capabilities across all ICG business lines: banking, capital markets and advisory services, treasury and trade solutions (TTS), markets, securities services, as well as technology, risk and controls.

In 2022, TTS invested $1bn in technology, with a focus on four client growth missions.

we think in digital terms and are continuously investing in our technology to best serve our clients

Driss Temsamani

Launched in March 2023, Citi Travel is a digital travel booking platform for US Citi’s ‘ThankYou’ cardmembers. Travel is a highly valued ThankYou Reward redemption option, and Citi needed to re-imagine the travel booking experience to reflect how people book today. Citi Travel now offers a seamless digital experience, making it easy to book a wide range of hotels (1.4 million offered on the site), attractions, flights and car rental options globally. The platform is integrated into the Citi mobile and digital experiences, and provides ThankYou cardmembers with the flexibility to book how they like.

“At Citi’s TTS, we think in digital terms and are continuously investing in our technology to best serve our clients. From faster payments to real-time liquidity, we have substantially increased our technology budget over the past several years to help ensure we are ready to meet our clients’ needs both today and as they evolve in the digital economy,” says Driss Temsamani, Americas head of digital, Citi TTS.

Mike Naggar, head of US personal banking technology and chief digital officer at Citi, adds: “With everything we do, we’re focused on improving our customer’s digital experience, making it more seamless, secure and rewarding. From launching our Citi Travel with Booking.com site to improving the login experience, we design our digital experiences with a customer-first mindset.”

Middle East

WINNER: Emirates NBD

Emirates NBD’s innovation journey began in 2013. The bank is now in phase four, what it calls the ‘Future of Banking’. Its primary objectives are to enhance its digital banking portfolio and build a product suite using the latest technologies. Phase four gathered pace in June 2022, when the bank shifted to an accelerated rate of delivery and launched a rewards programme for its teams.

Since then, the bank has made several digital innovations, including an enhanced mobile app, a new digital wealth platform (DWP) and a revamped customer relationship manager.

The enhanced mobile app, ENBD X, launched in the fourth quarter of 2022. Monthly logins on the app are now 50% higher than with the bank’s legacy app. The new app offers more than 100 services (including 60 instant services), from activating or blocking a debit card to updating Emirates ID and passport details.

Emirates NBD has embarked on a digital acceleration phase to make banking instant, intelligent and innovative

Pedro S Cardoso

It supports instant transfers of funds to friends and families based anywhere in the world and can hide financial details with just a tap, among other features.

The DWP is on the cusp of launching, and offers customers the ability to invest in both global and local stock markets on the go, while being assured by the bank.

The Digital Assisted Banking service allows for faster resolutions for service requests and complaints. Currently, 50% of account opening and almost 30% of credit card journeys are completed instantly, whereas nearly 75% of personal loan requests are decided (i.e. approved/rejected) on the spot. Additionally, turnaround time in resolving service requests has reduced by 35%.

“After completing a full technology transformation, Emirates NBD has embarked on a digital acceleration phase to make banking instant, intelligent and innovative, while improving customer experience across touchpoints. As one of the few large banks globally with a 100% cloud-native tech stack, Emirates NBD has taken a significant leap in the past 18 months to create, test and roll out an array of new products and digital services in a phased manner, all targeted to serve and expand our customer base and businesses, both locally and internationally,” says Pedro S Cardoso, chief digital officer, retail banking and wealth management at Emirates NBD.

Western Europe

WINNER: UniCredit

UniCredit’s strategy has included a completely reconfigured IT architecture. Transforming how teams design, build and operate their solutions, the bank’s cloud-based and application programming interface (API)-enabled set-up empowers UniCredit developers to build scalable products by promoting technology as a service, promoting a product-centric and agile way of working.

This runs right across the bank’s activities, promoting interconnectivity, automation, trackability and reusability. The new architecture creates a marketplace that enables UniCredit staff to develop cross-country products and distinctive user experiences, leveraging flexible, reusable building blocks or by creating their own building blocks, which can then be adapted for other solutions.

A key part of the bank’s digital transformation has been to run a programme of simplification, reviewing all processes and reducing the number of steps and approvals to maximise efficiency.

For example, when it comes to digital transformation, the bank feels that technology is only half the battle. UniCredit has ensured buy-in from the business to ensure the processes being digitised are themselves streamlined. A loan application that requires 26 approvals will not benefit hugely from digitalisation because it can still be held up at 26 different points along the way. An application that needs just two approvals, however, can be approved in just a few clicks, a more efficient process that leads to a vastly better customer experience.

UniCredit chose not to compete with fintech or big tech companies in terms of rolling out the latest solution, even if the latter boast greater agility and ability to adapt to customer needs. Instead, the bank decided to address customer needs with its own digital solutions, putting in place the technologies and processes to develop new solutions at high speed and at scale.

Giovanni Damiani, deputy group digital and information officer at UniCredit, says “This award represents a milestone for our digital transformation – a comprehensive long-term undertaking focused on rebuilding our technology and operational processes from the ground up, even as we look to continue rolling out new solutions in the here and now. It also comes as we move into a new phase of our transformation, where we are looking to build on the foundations established in the last couple of years by investing in keystone technologies such as cloud, data and AI. We are honoured to have been recognised here and excited for the next stage of the journey.”

Categories

AI and machine learning

WINNER: Taipei Fubon Bank
Project name: Project Eagle Eye
Partner: Criminal Investigation Bureau

Project Eagle Eye is a fraud detection and prevention artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) model, which secured Taipei Fubon Bank (TFB) the accolade for the best AI/ML project for 2023.

The model, which went live in July 2022, was created to enhance financial safety for customers and combat the rise in fraudulent activities, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. It uses pattern recognition, advanced data analytics and real-time hotspot detection to assign risk scores to customer accounts based on the likelihood of fraudulent activity, while providing early warning provisions across multiple channels.

The system not only prevents flagged accounts from receiving fund transfers but also notifies the police in case of withdrawal attempts, ensuring swift action.

The AI model uses data from the Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, applying feature engineering techniques to identify unusual behaviour. A gradient-boosted decision tree model is employed to forecast the probability of an account being fraudulent, ensuring clarity and interpretability. Gradient boosting is used to improve the model’s performance by combining multiple weak models into a collectively strong model.

Project Eagle Eye was developed by TFB director Tsai Pei-Ling, who led a cross-functional team of experts from the financial safety department and data intelligence department. The model’s deployment led to a significant increase in true positive rates and a drastic reduction in false positives.

The project achieved a 56% true positive rate, up from less than 1% before implementation, demonstrating its effectiveness in identifying genuine instances of fraud. The AI model led to a 98% reduction in false positives, enabling the bank to focus its resources on high-risk cases and avoid unnecessary investigations.

Bank/fintech partnership

WINNER: Union Bank of India
Project name: Fintech Engagement Framework
Partners: many

Union Bank of India (UBI) has taken home the Bank/Fintech Partnerships award this year for its framework for engaging with fintech companies and leveraging their solutions for building customer digital journeys. The bank engaged with more than 150 fintechs across more than 20 areas, including conversational artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and embedded finance. The framework reduced time to market by 50% to less than two months.

Several products and services have been realised as a result of this framework, including a partnership with UltraCash for enabling Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments for customers with feature phones. This voice facility extends the National Payments Corporation of India’s UPI infrastructure to mid-range and feature phones in a seamless manner. It enables payments for everyone with any phone in the user’s preferred language, without the need to download apps or hardware.

Our vision is to create a digital bank that sets the standard for the industry

Rajnish Khare

UBI also introduced a mobile lifestyle marketplace solution app. This enables customers to carry out various non-banking services such as travel and hotel booking, recharging prepaid mobiles and so on through the mobile app. The product was implemented in just one month and has had more than 72,000 hits.

The bank also conducted open forums for fintech companies to resolve their queries on the onboarding process, which saw more than 150 firms participate. There was also a 300% increase in application numbers.

“Our vision is to create a digital bank that sets the standard for the industry, and to achieve this, we must be agile and innovative like no other. Our fintech partnership is a testament to our commitment to reinventing digital customer experience, while reducing time to market by approximately 50%. We are proud to be pioneers in this space, and we will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible to deliver the best possible banking experience for our customers,” says Rajnish Khare, UBI’s chief digital officer.

Cyber security

WINNER: Meezan Bank
Project name: AI Security Analytics
Partners: Rewterz and CTM360

Meezan Bank’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Security Analytics project is a one-stop shop that combines advanced AI automation capabilities to combat cyber threats. The purpose of this platform is to assist and empower cyber security teams, such as security operations and incident responders which are overwhelmed by a never-ending list of incidents, alerts and threats that are constantly evolving. It will automate processes and events through AI underlying embedded technologies.

The project has benefited the organisation in several ways, such as by reducing the risk of financial loss and reputational damage associated with cyber attacks, automating security processes to prevent future attacks, enhancing collaboration and co-ordination among security teams, and making real-time decisions based on institutional knowledge and practical experience among others.

Our fundamental objective was to develop a vigorous, extensive and integrated solution

Syed Fahd Azam

Key features include threat intelligence from multiple sources, a real-world attack feed, security assessment and security automation. It responds to incidents with real-time reasoning and responds proactively against evolving threats. It also allows for job/workflow or module customisation, and real-life attack simulation on specific integrated modules such as email security.

“Our fundamental objective was to develop a vigorous, extensive and integrated solution that effectively manages cyber security risks and threats,” says Syed Fahd Azam, head, information security at Meezan Bank. “We accomplished this by harnessing back-end AI and advanced analytical capabilities automating tasks, and empowering our security analysts to combat cyber threats in a simplified and consistent manner.

He continues: “The bank has experienced a profound positive impact, primarily evidenced by the remarkable reduction of response times and the mitigation of reputational risks caused by cyber attacks. Our teams can now respond with greater efficacy, and as we move ahead, while recognising that cyber security is an ever-evolving challenge, we shall continue to further enhance our efforts in this domain.”

Financial wellness

WINNER: OakNorth Bank
Project name: ON Climate
Partner: OakNorth Credit Intelligence

OakNorth Bank’s ON Climate is a software-as-a-service application that was developed by the bank’s team of credit scientists and software engineers, in close collaboration with 10 US banks and 27 climate experts. It applies to six scenarios that are aligned with the Network for Greening the Financial System’s climate scenarios, the Paris Accord and the May 2021 US Executive Order.

ON Climate, part of the ON Credit intelligence Suite, provides US commercial lenders (and OakNorth Bank in the UK) with insights on climate risk in their commercial portfolio that can inform their approach to every stage of the credit lifecycle: from origination and monitoring, to conducting portfolio-level scenario analysis, responding to investor, board and regulatory requests, as well as setting credit strategy. Its forward-looking climate scenarios are constantly updated with the most recently available data, including high-frequency third-party data sets, to ensure its bank partners have the most accurate view of climate impact across their portfolio.

we’re proud to be working with some of the most forward-thinking banks when it comes to climate risk

Hugh Shannon

Furthermore, it enables OakNorth Bank to make faster and smarter decisions on which borrowers or sub-sectors in its portfolio are most likely to suffer or benefit from climate change, and as a result, mitigate risk and identify origination opportunities to lend more. By using traditional and non-traditional data sources, the credit technology also enables the bank to better understand climate risk with a holistic, forward-looking view of the ever-changing and evolving landscape around climate issues.

“Banks and their customers are facing numerous physical and transition risks from climate change. ON Climate, produced by OakNorth Credit Intelligence, is helping banks analyse, evaluate and act upon these risks in their commercial portfolio, as well as enabling them to identify opportunities to support their customers in transitioning to the green economy. We’re proud to be working with some of the largest and most forward-thinking banks when it comes to climate risk, and are honoured to have received this award in recognition of our efforts so far,” says Hugh Shannon, head of sales and customer success at OakNorth Credit Intelligence.

Investment banking

WINNER: Banco Bradesco
Project name: Invest+
Partner: Smartbrain

Invest+ is an investment consolidator which allows customers to have a better control of their investments in a single app, with a full view of their investment portfolio, with functionalities and contents that consolidate investments with Bradesco Group and other institutions/players in the market.

In one app, Invest+ shows investments in Bradesco, Ágora (Bradesco’s broker), Bradesco Insurance (private pension plans) and other brokers through open banking.

The solution adds distinct positions, including those integrated to the Brazilian Stock Exchange, such as stocks, direct treasury and real estate funds, among others. The main objective is to provide investors with greater and better control of their investments, with a global and strategic vision for better decision-making.

in an increasingly competitive market, customers are looking for autonomy and freedom of choice

Guilherme Muller Leal

“By hearing the customer voice, exploring the tech ecosystem and adopting an open innovation strategy, Bradesco keeps advancing in better understanding consumers to offer solutions according to life’s moment. Invest+ allows Bradesco customers to have a better control of their investments, in a single free app, offering a full view of their investment portfolio in Bradesco and from other institutions in the market, through open banking. The customer has an organised and detailed view of their investments with graphics showing profitability, portfolio allocation and evolution, all classified by assets and exclusive content with information from the market. The main objective is to provide investors with greater and better control of their investments, with a strategic vision for better decision-making,” says Guilherme Muller Leal, executive director at Bradesco.

He adds: “In an increasingly competitive market, customers are looking for autonomy and freedom of choice. Invest+ provides ease, convenience and security for investors: a single view of the customer portfolio for better decision-making and comparisons, providing financial advice and consulting, analyses of an overall portfolio to offer new products and closer relationships, which improves loyalty.” According to him, the solution is currently being used by more than 300,000 customers.

Mobile

WINNER: HSBC
Project name: Investment Services in Mobile Banking App
Partner: Zühlke

HSBC UK partnered with Zühlke, a tech consultancy and engineering company, to create a mobile investment journey for its UK customers. The goal was to help existing retail customers get started with investing. The result was a mobile app for HSBC UK customers, enabling them to open an investment account, invest in a ready-made range of funds and track and manage their investments, all within the HSBC UK mobile banking app. The bank now sees 64% of account opening via the new mobile journey.

In collaboration with Zühlke, HSBC UK conducted extensive user research and prioritised the most impactful opportunities to incorporate. Ongoing user testing and research helped to validate their assumptions and test desirability with the target market.

we have designed and delivered a customer-centric product, which stands out in the market

Marc Baxter

HSBC UK recognised that many of its customers, particularly those under 35, have sufficient assets to invest but are not currently doing so. The initiative was designed to address this gap in the market and provide a compelling and user-friendly journey for the UK market. Users can initiate their first investment with just £50.

“Around 389,000 of our customers aged under 35 have sufficient assets to invest but are currently not doing so. On top of that, 64% of HSBC UK customers are digitally active,” says James Hewitson, head of wealth management at HSBC UK.

One key aspect of the project was placing content at the heart of the service. The team worked closely with its content partner to ensure that the service put the right content in front of the right types of customers at the right stage in their journey. The new service has fuelled further developments including the recent launch of the investment dashboard and servicing journeys.

“Since launching our mobile investment journey, it has become our customers preferred channel with 64% choosing to invest this way. This popularity has fuelled further developments including our investment dashboard, servicing journeys and soon to launch mobile investment calculator. We are proud that 55% of customers are already setting up regular investments. Through our collaboration with Zühlke, we have designed and delivered a customer-centric product, which stands out in the market,” says Marc Baxter, head of digital wealth and insurance at HSBC.

Open banking

WINNER: Chicago Advisory Partners
Project name: Open Finance Brazil – beyond Open Banking
Partners: Raidiam Services, Sensedia, GrupoData and Accenture

Brazil’s open banking project is the most interesting one going on in the world currently. This is an industry-wide initiative including the entire Brazilian financial system, ranging from the regulator (Banco Central do Brasil) and major banks like Banco do Brasil, Itaú Unibanco, Caixa Econômica Federal, Banco Bradesco and Santander Brasil to credit card companies, as well as key new entrants like Nubank and fintechs, among others.

Chicago Advisory Partners (CAP) is the Open Finance secretariat, responsible not only for the overall coordination (encompassing a governance structure with more than 600 professionals in 30 technical working groups, a board responsible for all deliberations and multiple representatives from the Brazilian central bank), but also for providing all the administrative services (including HR services, procurement, financial and infrastructure management) that are required to make the ecosystem function properly.

Through the implementation of standardised application programming interfaces (APIs), Open Finance has enabled users to securely share their financial data across different institutions, providing consumers with greater control over their finances and the ability to access a wider range of financial services.

 we are fostering social inclusion and enabling new innovative financial products

Carlos Antonio Rodrigues Jorge

“This project was created not only to build the technological infrastructure of Open Finance Brazil, but first and foremost to be a transformative journey towards financial inclusion, competitiveness, transparency, education and sustainability for our society,” says Carlos Antonio Rodrigues Jorge, partner and co-founder, CAP.

“We translated such overall goals in the 2022-23 period into major deliverables: improve client data APIs, improve payment initiation API, add new features, bring more transparency, provide a global audience access to major key performance indicators and milestones, and justify the rebranding of the programme from open banking to open finance. All of them were successfully delivered.

“We aren’t a bank but a specialised consultancy, and the benefits here apply to all of society – Brazilian citizens using open finance are effectively getting more access to credit and lowering interests on their loans, because sharing their financial information with multiple institutions is allowing a better credit score and thus lower rates. We are also fostering social inclusion, promoting financial education, enabling new innovative financial products, and affecting the whole Brazilian credit market.”

Payments

WINNER: DBS Bank (Hong Kong)
Project name: Pay & Transfer feature

DBS Bank (Hong Kong) offers an innovative financial solution through its Pay & Transfer feature, which allows credit card payments to be made in cash-only sectors. This feature uses Hong Kong’s (HK) Faster Payment System (FPS), enabling cardholders to pay bills, instantly settle payments with merchants and transfer funds to peers by using their DBS HK credit card.

DBS’s credit card experience offers extensive coverage with more than 150,000 FPS merchant accounts, including those micro-merchants who operate on a cash-only basis and do not possess a credit card point-of-sale (POS) terminal.

After conducting thorough research of the market’s payment solutions, FPS technical details and the bank’s internal back end, the bank found that it is feasible to use a credit card as a source of funds for FPS payments within seconds.

The process involves receiving and verifying the payment request, connecting to the FPS hub for verification, debiting the credit card, transferring the funds and sending notifications to the payer.

our customers can execute transactions seamlessly with greater convenience

Emily Ip

DBS also implemented an instalment payment module that allows customers to complete their application instantly, and uses instant contextual learning to analyse transaction types and profiles for cross-selling opportunities.

The bank collaborated with its transformation group to interview customers for mock trials and host workshops with internal payment experts from different regions. DBS collected ideation and feedback in functional, emotional and social views to ensure that the feature meets the needs and expectations of customers.

The new payments feature can encourage more micro-merchants to accept credit card payments. Historically, many have only accepted cash payments due to the high fees associated with credit card processing, according to DBS. However, by using Pay & Transfer merchants can now accept credit card payments without the need for POS systems.

“By merging the DBS Card+ HK App and Hong Kong FPS, we are the pioneer payment provider in Hong Kong to bridge the gap between credit card and cash-only transactions, precipitating a market shift by providing unparalleled financial flexibility and accessibility. Our customers can execute transactions seamlessly with greater convenience, while micro-merchants can effortlessly expand their payment channels,” says Emily Ip, executive director, head of cards and unsecured lending, consumer banking group and wealth management, DBS Bank (Hong Kong). “We’re excited to see how this sets the stage for future innovations in the payment ecosystem.”

Transformation project

WINNER: Bank Rakyat Indonesia
Project name: Transforming BRILink Agent End-to-End Processes

Laku Pandai is a programme created by the Indonesian Financial Services Authority to provide access to financial services for people who have not been included in the mainstream banking system. The main goal is to increase financial inclusion as a key supporting factor for reducing poverty and increasing welfare. In this financial inclusion programme, the FSA collaborates with banks which then recommend customers who are suitable to become Laku Pandai agents. Becoming a Laku Pandai agent provides the customer with commissions from their transactions.

BRILink is a Laku Pandai agent owned by Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI). BRILink is an extension of services under which BRI co-operates with its customers as an agent that can perform real-time online public banking transactions using the BRI Electronic Data Center or using BRILink Mobile on a fee-sharing basis.

In this process, BRILink agents play an important role in acquiring new agents and developing existing ones (i.e. activation and upgrading of functions). Currently, the agents perform their daily workflows manually. They create their customer pipeline through door-to-door sales, and they rely on their subjective judgement, intuition and random selection to activate or upgrade their agents.

BRI employed a planned change management initiative to build sales team confidence in the use and adoption of applications in their day-to-day operations. Adding artificial intelligence location capabilities to the application makes it easier for users to understand and follow up on recommendations.

After a month, in two specific regions, BRI successfully acquired 200 new agents, activated 71% of its activation pipeline, and upgraded 55% of its upgrade pipeline. Additionally, fee-based revenue increased 13% in six months (the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022).

In March 2023, 11% of potential agents were successfully acquired to become new agents in all regions of Indonesia. Existing agents also saw an 34% increase in achievement and a 9% improvement in agent class quality. Between February and March 2023, there was a 10% increase in revenue from new agents acquired and a 12% increase in existing agent fees generated by agents who successfully upgraded their class.

CIO of the Year

WINNER: Adil El Iraki, Attijariwafa Bank/Wenov

The winner of this year’s CIO of the Year award is Adil El Iraki, executive director in charge of transformation, innovation and organisation at Wenov, the innovation arm of Attijariwafa Bank, the pan-African financial and banking group.

Under his guidance, the bank launched an open innovation programme, called the Financial Catalyst by Wenov, which allows it to collaborate with African start-ups, such as Moroccan fintech A2im, to co-develop tailor-made solutions.

Wenov’s objective is to build an innovation model that spans subsidiaries, nationally and internationally, and their respective ecosystems. It is centred around developing a data-driven business strategy, advancing digital banking through new technologies and establishing itself as a leader in the ecosystem through high-value-added partnerships.

In 2022-23, Attijariwafa Bank accelerated its transformation into an innovative and agile digital bank by offering clients a fully digital and omnichannel experience, proactively catering to their needs based on the data collected.

we redefine banking excellence, enriching customer journeys through our omnichannel approach

Adil El Iraki

As Wenov, the bank is focused on emerging technologies with high business value, achieved through agile methodologies and workflows, tapping into the internal talents of the bank and partnering with start-ups.

Initiatives include the Robot Trader, the country’s first algorithm-based trading tool. RoboAdvisor, in collaboration with A2im, is a digital solution that supports distribution networks by providing client profiling, optimal allocation suggestions via a chatbot and e-learning.

Last year, Wenov’s Fintech Catalyst programme worked with 240 start-ups applying and participating in 25 challenges, with more than 250 experts mobilised, and 15 proof of concepts (PoCs) developed with nine in development.

To support start-up growth and innovation, Wenov also connects them with Positive Invest, the venture capital fund of Attijariwafa Bank. Positive Invest takes stakes in innovative start-ups reinventing banking and insurance services, addressing opportunities in local and global markets. Positive Invest aims to be the leading long-term partner for fintech/insurtech ecosystems by providing funding and support.

“Fuelling the future of banking and embracing innovation at the core, Wenov empowers Attijariwafa Bank’s digital transformation. Through data and AI-driven insights and strategic alliances, we redefine banking excellence, enriching customer journeys through our omnichannel approach. Together, we co-create with start-ups, universities and institutions, nurturing Africa’s innovation landscape, while embracing the revolution that reshapes banking, with cutting-edge solutions charting the path of tomorrow,” says Mr El Iraki.

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